WWW Wednesday – 31 August 2016

img_1384-0

WWW is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking On a World of Words. You can join in by commenting on Sam’s post, and answering three questions.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books, that couldn’t be more different from each other.

12873

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Who doesn’t know that line? Rebecca has been languishing on my TBR shelf for years and years. I am only about 25 pages in, and I love the atmosphere that Daphne du Maurier creates, right from the very beginning. I already have a chill of anticipation as to what is to come.

6792458

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander – Hands down, this is one of the most important nonfiction books that I have read this year. With only one chapter remaining, it has been a slow, thought-provoking book that I have read as part of a local discussion series called Educate to Engage, a group that has also created the hashtag #NoMoreBystanding. Michelle has constructed a thorough, convincing, passionate account of how the American criminal justice system, triggered by the creation and design of the War on Drugs, has become an institution of oppression towards African-Americans and people of color. The book is filled with detailed facts, arguments and studies to back up the basic premise. It is not an easy read, but it has helped give me the words to talk about a subject that has always been deeply unsettling to me.

What have you recently finished?

13206900

Winter by Marissa Meyer – I loved this book! I thought it was the best one of the whole series. When I started Lunar Chronicles, I enjoyed the first book, Cinder, but didn’t love it. Here, at the end of the series, all of the characters have captured my heart. I didn’t want it to end. Marissa Meyer created a fascinating world with captivating people, it was such a fun read.

What are you reading next?

It’s a toss-up between two books:

4954833   1429082

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – This is the Sepember selection for my book club, but I am not sure if I will be able to get to it in time for our meeting. I am not extremely motivated to read it right now, especially since the reviews I have heard are only average.

Sailor Moon Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi – My daughter is beginning to express an interest in Sailor Moon manga, so I thought it would be a great time to re-read these books! This will probably be what I pick up next.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Back-to-School Edition

toptentuesday

 

This is my first time participating in the Ten for Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, since I have recently come back to blogging after a 6-year hiatus. This week’s topic is to choose something “back-to-school” related. I am choosing 10 books that my bookish 3rd grader recommends to anyone who enjoys middle grade books. These have all received 5 stars from her, and at least 4 stars from me.

If your school is like ours, students are required to read for at least 30 minutes each night, and log the book in their school journal. This is fairly easy homework for my little bibliophile, and we have compiled this list from her favorite books of the summer. I am quite confident that many of these will show up as re-reads on her reading log for school this fall!

11607446

1. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer – I love Glee, and I love Chris Colfer. My daughter has read the first four books in the series; the first one is the best.

23602613

2. National Geographic Kids Ultimate Weird but True 3: 1,000 Wild and Wacky Facts and Photos – These books are plain old fun, and Volume 3 is a favorite in our home.

23310699

3. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate – The cover art for this book is BEAUTIFUL! So are the words. Read it.

22504701

4. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson – If you love Sisters and Smile by Raina Telgemeier, you will love Roller Girl.

25074363

5. Mary Anne Saves the Day by Raina TelgemeierAt first I thought it was sacrilege to bring back my beloved Babysitter’s Club in graphic novel form. And then I opened to the first pages, and was hooked.

23310214

6. Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater – Oh, do I wish I could have first experienced this book when I was a child. What a fun, whimsical story.

1238684

7. Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi – The artwork in this graphic novel is enchanting, truly breathtaking. The whole series is wonderful. I especially love Miskit.

79626

8. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar d’Aulaire – An excellent book for any mythology-loving kid (and their parents).

297249

9. Any Boxcar Children book by Gertrude Chandler Warner – Last year was the summer of Nancy Drew, this year it was the Boxcar Children. I was so happy to have Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny come back into my life!

878243

10. Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper – This was an impromptu pick from the shelves of our local library. Grace has a big heart, and my daughter never says no to a book with a cat-loving kid as the main character.

 

You’ve Got Mail #1

I love getting mail. I also love Amazon Prime. What I don’t love is going to a mall. Nope. No way. We’re too busy doing other fun stuff! That, and… I really don’t like crowded places.

So…a lot of our shopping happens from the comfort of our home office. Or cuddled on my bed with an iPad. Ahh…the luxury of technology.

Which is why I am going to try a regular blog post I am calling “You’ve Got Mail”. And yes, in case you were wondering, I was a teen in the 90s, and I certainly loved Meg Ryan’s lovable romcom movies.

This week was a fun week for mail. The photo quality isn’t the best, I promise I will do better next time!

IMG_3947

A Dozen A Day: Book Two – This book was recommended by M’s piano teacher, and I quickly saw why. The technical exercises are both fun and challenged, and a perfect way to warm-up before a piano session. M dived right in as soon as it came in the mail.

Yumbox – I was a loyal fan of the Ziploc, leakproof 3-compartment containers that were discontinued in 2014 (I still sob over this fact…why take away something that works so perfectly!). The Yumbox has been recommended by other parents at M’s school, and I love the sleek design and easy latch. Back-to-school time means back-to-school orders! Hopefully, this lunchbox will work out well this year.

Lokai bracelets – Infused with elements sourced from the highest and lowest points on earth, these bracelets are from an online company that makes signature bracelets (like the ones in the picture), giving back 10% of the proceeds to profits such as Charity: Water, Make A Wish Foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute, Alzheimer’s association, and more. The white bead is filled with water from Mt. Everest, reminding you to stay humble when you are on the top. The black bead has a drop of mud from the Dead Sea, reminding you to stay hopeful when you have hit a low point.

Black-ish, Season 1: We don’t have cable, but we do frequently use Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming. This show has come highly recommended by a few friends, and I have been wanting to watch it for a while, but sadly the streaming options were quite limited. I found Season 1 for a great price on Amazon, so I opted for the DVD instead of the digital copy. I can’t wait to start watching it.

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder

I usually delve into YA books in the summer. They are the perfect accompaniment to lazy pool days. This summer, I decided to finally pick up the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer. I have been wanting to read this series for years!

I have a feeling M will be reading these books in the not too distant future, she was quite interested in hearing all about the characters and plot, and how it was similar to the original fairy tales. That kid is growing up way too fast when I can envision her reading, and enjoying, YA novels.

It is a familiar story, with an interesting twist. I LOVE the idea of Earthens colonizing  the Moon/Luna (I once wanted to name a pet dog Luna), and then evolving the ability to detect and manipulate bioelectricity. The glamours that Lunars can manipulate people with is endlessly fascinating. Cinder works flawlessly, seamlessly including many elements of the original Cinderella fairy tale while still managing to tell a highly creative and original story. A cyborg Cinderella? Brilliant!

The world of Cinder is quite imaginative, but I do wish the Eastern Commonwealth, and its history, would have been flushed out a bit more. No explanations about New Beijing’s culture, or how so many Asian nations ended up under one monarchy. Hopefully this will be explored in the rest of the series.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Fairy Tales for young and old

Fairy tales hold an important place in our home, and I strongly believe they are essential stories for childhood. Fairy and folk tales are a creative narrative in which children can imagine extreme situations, and provide valuable insight into human nature. They are meant to be read aloud, and slowly absorbed. There are always new fairy tales to be discovered, from all around the world.

One of our favorite activities is to read two versions of the same fairy tale, side by side, a fantastic activity in critical thinking. We did this recently with Little Red Riding Hood, reading the Charles Perrrault version from Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book, and the later adaptation by The Brothers Grimm. In what might be a first for the Grimm Brothers, they actually tell the tamer tale.

I personally love finding fairy tales that are new to me, and those that have yet to be made into a Disney movie! One of my recent discoveries is the Goose Girl, by the Brothers Grimm. M and I both loved this story, and I was even more delighted to discover that author Shannon Hale wrote a book based on this obscure fairy tale, which has since turned into a whole series.

These are a few of our current family favorites:

BFB

1. The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. The go-to source for original, unaltered fairy tales. Further books in the series cover the rainbow and include the Red Fairy Book, Yellow Fairy Book, Crimson Fairy Book and more. Almost all are available for free download on Kindle.

From the preface: “The Tales in this volume are intended for children, who will like, it is hoped, the old stories that have pleased so many generations.”

2. The Three Billy Goats Gruff – we particularly like the edition illustrated by Marcia Brown. 

3. Hansel and Gretel – adapted by Cynthia Rylant.

4. Beauty and the Beast – retold by Jan Brett.